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An ordeal with a smoker

by Erin Paul
(Kottayam, Kerala, India)

Veena was lying on the hospital bed fitted with mask to get air from the ventilator into her lungs. Vikas crying seeing the plight of his wife's condition.

Vikas and Veena were married couples. After three years Veena got a job as a school teacher and Vikas was a bank clerk. Veena was a jovial person and got easily attracted by everyone. She had a huge friend circle. Vikas on the other hand was an introvert. He hardly speaks, and loves a quiet space, sitting quietly in front of the computer screen and working for hours. During stress hours he would love to smoke. The office he worked had a smoke area...where he would enjoy the company of other smokers too.

As time passed his daily encounter with cigarette turned into addiction and gradually into a necessity. Lighting cigarette was now child’s play.

Veena had come into is life leaving behind a life of comfort and loving parents, ignoring all their advice, to embark on her adventurous journey with a smoker. She was certain that someday she will change his habits. With no complaints she decided to adjust to a simple life. She had never demanded anything from him other than his love and always appeared jovial.

One day they were invited for a party at Veena's house.

Veena's parents were excited to see them after a long time. At the party, Vikas kept looking around inside his jacket for his pack of Rothmans. His awkward fumbling attracted Veena's attention, and she smiled . She moved closer and caught his eye as he flipped the opening lid to reveal a double row of cigarettes, lined up like school children standing in assembly wrapped in
silver paper.

Most of the days he would finish ten cigarettes by mid-afternoon and pretend he had done well. After all, he could have smoked a pack of twenty with ease. In the evening, he would buy more for the next day and smoke them by the end of the night.

Veena never scolded or got angry at him. One day Veena decided to take him to the nearby hospital as she wanted to do some routine health check - up.

After the check- up doctor noticed that Veena was coughing badly. Doctor told Veena to check if she has allergies. With no surprise she told she lives with a husband who is addicted to smoking. Doctor called her husband and advised him the implications that he will have to face if he doesn't quit smoking.

Years passed,Veena kept coughing and one day she got sick and ran to the hospital.

Veena was diagnosed with cancer.

It was difficult for Vikas to forego the two most precious things in his life. His wife and cigarettes.

Losing them both at the same time is heart breaking. He decided that he can live without smoking but not without his wife. Vikas made a vow that he will never smoke. He quit smoking and decided to save her life.

Veena lived only for two years. Vikas started a de-addiction camp for smokers. Everyday he would tell a speech, " We only have one life. Please do not make your life short; this affects your life and your families’ lives, too. For those who are thinking about smoking, please don’t. Trust me, if you think smoking will make you look cool with your friends, think again.”


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